Top positive review
Looking and Cooking with Rachael Ray!
on March 17, 2011
I love cookbooks, I must have hundreds and my mother (from whom I inherited my passion for cooking) has thousands. A few of my early purchases were of the "Look and Cook" variety, such as French Country Cookery (Anne Willan's Look & Cook) but I have since moved on to cookbooks that rely on the reader to have mastered the different techniques that are required for each specific dish. Then I saw Rachael Ray on television cook some of the dishes from this new cookbook of hers. I must say that I was impressed with both the style of the dishes and their ease of preparation. The recipes are new, trendy and very approachable. The photos that demonstrate the preparation of the dishes do so in a step-by-step fashion are well shot and very easy to learn from. Some of the recipes in this book were posted on Rachael's website before the book was released so I had the opportunity to try out a few earlier as well as some new ones that are only in the book.
The look and cook portion of the book includes 100 recipes and is divided into 3 chapters:
1. Cozy Food - Includes recipes for some great comfort food, such as: Shepherd's Pie Stuffed Potatoes; Pimiento Mac n' Cheese; and fresh Onion and Wild Mushroom Soup
2. Make Your Own Takeout - Restaurant-style dishes that can be prepared faster than you can pick up something to-go, recipes include: Chinese Orange-Barbeque Cashew Chicken and Crunchy Tuna Tacos
3. Fancy Fake-Outs - These are simplified versions of dishes that are usually reserved for the advanced home chef, including: Almost Tandoori Chicken; Individual Beef Wellingtons; and Veal and Olive Ragu with Pappardelle
The back section of the book includes 5 more chapters (125 additional recipes), but they are in her 30 Minute Meals format and do not include photographs. There is also a link to her interactive website where you can see select dishes being made in real-time.
So far my favorite recipe is for the Chicken Cutlets Brasciole. The chicken breast filets are butterflied and pounded; the breasts are then stuffed with a mixture of raisins, toasted pine nuts, parsley, lemon zest, cheese, garlic and bread crumbs and is served atop a tomato, wine and tarragon sauce. Delicious!
This book is full of great recipes, some of which will become regular fare at my house. Although the Look and Cook feature is not really necessary if you are an advanced cook, this book is still worth having for its creativity and ease of preparation alone. It should be a big hit with the beginning and intermediate home chef as nothing is assumed and each technique and process is both shown and explained in detail. Advanced cooks will still be inspired by Rachael's ability to simplify classic recipes and to substitute easy to find ingredients for those that have been used historically in the well-known versions.
Ms. Ray has both her fans and her detractors. Some find her a little too "cutesy" with her made-up words and expressions (like EVOO for extra-virgin olive oil), but I find her somewhat unorthodox style to be refreshing (and she's not too hard on the eyes!). All in all I find this to be a very fine cookbook and one that I will be recommending to quite a few of my friends who would appreciate both the recipes and the step-by-step style of the photography and instructions. This will not become a go-to cookbook for me, but I am very glad that I own it and I will be cooking recipes from it from time to time.